Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Summer Show............the Open Class.........

Part 1

When the horses in the ring had lined up the paddock announcer called my class to the runway. Usually people lag behind with no one wanting to be first. On this day it seemed to be just the opposite as everyone headed to the gate together.

The first horse in line turned out to be the red stallion. Behind him were at least two other horses before there was any room for me to even think about getting Legs into line. Three or four other horses were all vying for the same position as I tried to figure out what would be the best placement for Legs behind that red horse.

I think we ended up somewhere in the middle. Mostly I kept watching that red horse to see where he was in the ring. I knew I didn't want him behind me but I also had to remember he had managed to run into Legs from somewhere in front. I was going to have to keep an eye on this horse for any signs that he was thinking about resisting his rider and coming after Legs.

The horse doesn't jog as slow as the other horses do but then with Legs and his new lack of impulsion, my horse wasn't going that slow either. I found myself paying more attention to my position behind the red horse than to my ride. My horse felt rough and I was having problems getting that roughness to smooth out.

Legs had experienced so many issues in this arena, I had planned to stay away from that far end of the arena as much as possible. Most every time he'd spooked had been associated with that end. Now wanting to stay behind that red stallion seemed to force me deep into corners my horse didn't really like.

While Legs tensed as I pushed him into that first corner, the horse didn't fight me and he didn't spook. He moved all the way down the rail right up snug next to that scary wall just like a pro. Other than that first hesitant step there were no signs the horse was out of his comfort zone.

Then moving into the scary exposed corner, the horse even sighed. Legs moved on down the long rail like he had no problems in this ring. I was still watching for the red horse but I couldn't help but notice that Legs was not picking up any tension at all in this arena or at the proximity of that horse. We may not have been having the best ride as far as collection but we were certainly doing better in this arena than we'd done the whole last year.

When they asked us to lope, Legs' transition into the gait was one of the best he's ever done in the show ring. The lope was a bit fast and he didn't stay together as well as he'd been doing at home but considering the issues with the bit I was pleased with what I had.

The call for the hand gallop came with some resistance from my horse. Legs just did not want to move out. I suspect that was because it has been years since he has hand galloped in a class. I think the horse was not quite convinced it was really OK to move out at that gait. By the time I finally got him into it, the announcer called for us to come back to the lope.

As I moved my hand down the horse's neck, Legs immediately responded with a slow in pace. From there his transition down to the walk was better that I'd hoped although it was a little on his forehand but so much better than I'd expected with his lack of impulsion induced by this bridle.

It was at the walk I really noticed the horse's lack of forward movement. Normally the horse walks out in such a pretty walk. Now I found myself with one of those mincey little walks that comes from horses being intimidated by the bridle. My legs were beginning to feel like rubber just trying to get my horse to walk.

I spied the red stallion in front of us and he seemed to be doing something funky. With Legs not wanting to move I wasn't sure really what to do. It was about then, the announcer called for a change of direction so I watched for the red horse to reverse so I could figure out which line I should take.

Normally I like to turn Legs into the wall on the reverse. That barrier helps remind my horse to compress his frame. Now with the red horse coming straight at us, I chose to head off across the open arena before I changed directions.

For some reason the turn caused Legs to pick up his step a bit. I was worried we wouldn't get commited to the turn before being asked to lope but we actually made it nearly to the wall before they called for that gait.

Our transition into the lope was decent this way as well. Our transition into the hand gallop was pretty good too. Going down the rail I adjusted my seat and Legs broke immediately down into the jog. It was a great transition but not what we were supposed to be doing. It took a couple of strides before my horse was back up where he belonged but all in all it was a reasonable class for where my horse was on that day.

As they called for the line up I watched for the red horse. I knew from past experience we needed to line up at the opposite end from him. It took his rider forever to pick a spot but once she did I moved Legs up near the gazebo bringing him into line.

We may have had a break in gait but Legs had gone the whole class without a single spook. If memory serves me right, I have not had a first class at any show since the first day Legs was scared that has turned out like this. It really didn't matter what kind of ribbon I got. We were on the right track.

I think when all was said and done Legs ended up 5th out of 6. The sixth horse was the red stallion who is not committed to the bridle. Legs was definitely more steady than him even if he's not using himself correctly at this time. It was certainly obvious to me we have a lot of work to do in the bridle.

To be continued....................

A Reality Check

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